Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Silly Letter to UC Irvine From Palestine Legal

Palestine Legal (PL) is some half-baked group of lawyers representing pro-Palestinian students like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Last month,  PL wrote a letter to UC Irvine complaining that the little brown shirts were being persecuted as they disrupted pro-Israel  events on campus the past two years. They even listed little old me in their footnotes. Below is their letter. I have taken excerpts and responded with documentation as to the incidents they mention.

"During the week of May 8, 2017, a group of foreign military agents came to UCI to engage in a campaign of race, national-origin, and gender-based harassment against students supporting Palestinian rights." 

The "foreign military agents" were, in fact, five young Israeli IDF reservists who scheduled an event that week describing their experiences as Israeli soldiers. The event was disrupted. On other days during the week, they stood in public space near the mock "apartheid  wall" and peacefully spoke with passersby handing out written material countering  the SJP/Muslim Student Union message.

"For four straight days, for hours each day, a group who identified themselves as Israeli soldiers and others accompanying them targeted Palestinian and Middle Eastern students and their allies 2 with sustained verbal harassment, surveillance, disruption and physical assaults both near the wall and elsewhere on campus." 

Nonsense. I was present on two of those days and observed nothing of the kind. The reservists did participate in a counter demonstration of sorts, but there were no assaults. The campus police were present and made no arrests. The most "egregious" thing I saw was when one  female reservist was told by campus police and administration officials to move back from where SJP et al were screaming into a bullhorn. On the other hand, female reservists complained that they were shoved and spat upon in the face.

"On May 10, the students who had been targeted responded to the pervasive harassment by addressing the soldiers verbally and peacefully during the Question and Answer period of an event featuring the soldiers. The group’s camerawoman then came lunging at the pro-Palestinian students, gesturing aggressively and yelling. She shoved a student who stood in the way as she was charging toward the group. She was not removed from the event and was instead encouraged by a UCI administrator to file a police report against the students she had attacked. No administrator checked to see if the students were okay. This attack, as well as the other events of the week, were witnessed both by UCI administrators and by National Lawyers Guild legal observers." 

I was present during the May 10 incident and videotaped it in its entirety. Whether the Jewish female indeed shoved the SJP protester is open to question. If you watch the videotape, at most, it appears to be incidental contact. As for the (communist) National Lawyers Guild, their participation  in SJP/MSU disruptions in May 2016 and May 2017 is a campus scandal in itself. This NLG chapter is, in fact, affiliated with the UCI Law School. One might ask why the UCI Law School would allow anyone affiliated with it to participate in disruptions of Jewish student events on campus.

Throughout AZW in Spring 2018, students were concerned about the presence of police and administrators near the wall and the image this projected to passersby. The constant presence of police not only deterred people who might otherwise have approached the wall, but also signaled to the community that there was some type of wrongdoing or danger present. The presence of police had a negative impact on both students and their audience, particularly students of color and Muslim students, who are often profiled by the police. As students have repeatedly informed you, they find the university’s monitoring disturbing and discouraging. This is particularly true due to UCI’s refusal to issue any kind of public statement affirming that SJP and their allies pose no danger or indicating that the police were present to protect students supporting Palestinians rights from Israeli agitators. 

The reason campus police were (thankfully) close at hand is that these events are filled with tension and the potential for things to get out of hand is great. I invite the reader to watch video I took of last May's event. Then decide  why police were there.

AZW 2018 took place the week of April 30, 2018. Traumatized by the harassment they experienced during and after AZW 2017, SJP members and their allies planned a much more limited AZW this year. They scheduled AZW during a different week of the quarter. They did not announce the dates in advance. They scheduled only one event besides their Mock Wall. Their experience at the wall was different as well. After seeing the doxxing and online harassment their peers went through last year, many students at the wall this year covered their faces and engaged with the public in a much more limited manner than they would have liked. 

Traumatized? Go back and watch the disruption of May 10, 2017 and decide if these bullies were traumatized. Watch them shouting into bullhorns and decide if they were traumatized. They wore Palestinian scarves covering their faces because they wanted to intimidate. They made themselves look just like the Palestinian terrorists they support. That young punk who got in my face was trying to intimidate me. (He failed.)

SJP members and their allies would like to prevent these problems from recurring. Having successfully pushed for the prosecution of UCI students who spoke back to the Israeli ambassador in 2012, pro-Israel groups have increasingly demanded criminal prosecution of peaceful student protests at campuses throughout the state.

If pro-Palestinian students want to prevent these problems from happening, they can conduct their demonstrations in a peaceful manner. They can stop disrupting pro-Israel events. As for the 2010-not 2012- disruption of the Israeli ambassador's speech at UCI, they did not speak back; they disrupted it and were rightfully arrested and prosecuted-successfully. Protesting is a right. Disrupting is not. Nobody is demanding prosecution for peacefully demonstrating on behalf of the Palestinian cause. Bullying, intimidation and disruption is another matter.

Here is the 2018 article I posted in Frontpage Magazine that is in the footnotes of the letter. It speaks for itself. In May 2018, yet another pro-Israel event held by the College Republicans was disrupted.

All in all, the PL letter is a joke. It turns facts on their heads. When bullies lose, they cry every time.

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